There is too much happening right now that it is so easy to loose our center. Too easy to get lost in despair, too easy to fall prey to hate and all too easy to become completely debilitated by sadness.
Humanity is being tested right now. Three years ago, we collectively faced a major global shift, regardless of where or why the COVID virus came from, we all were affected. Maybe some of you lost loved ones, felt the economic crush, had a minor or major run-in with the virus or are in it for the long haul. We thought that the global pandemic would be a great reset. But what did we see instead? We were faced with the upfront efforts of hate groups to establish power and dominance, we saw black people getting murdered in our social media scroll, we have had to hear about fossil fuel megaliths hitting disgusting levels of profit, we saw countries slip back into fascism and rights stripped away from humans for being just who they are. Three years later, it doesn’t seem to be getting any better. War in too many places, only the dominant culture being televised, while countless in the global south fight for their freedoms. We see immigrants fleeing for their lives, drowned at sea or shipped across states lines, for white supremacist to prove a political point. The economy is inflating but your bank account probably isn’t. Fires have taken too many homes, floods have washed away too many dreams and books being denied to children.
How can we even begin to cultivate compassion when the rage is so present? How can we operate from a place of love when the hate is so strong? How can we find peace when the fear of uncertainty is so cutting so deep??
The month of August was in some ways a debilitating one. While I got up and at it every day, found my way with the plants and cuddled my kitten, I often would lie in bed and feel grief so immense and fear so all pervading that I couldn’t see anything but complete collapse. I was becoming more and more hopeless with each page I turned on the books I was buried in living the story of extinction and grand scale planetary change. My life felt so small and pointless.
I will admit this probably isn’t swaying you to want to read more, but please stick with me a moment longer. In sharing these moments with you, articulating my thoughts and feelings, I hope I am strumming on your heart strings that we have the opportunity to find our way back toward our humanity.
In my process, I was preparing for a journey to Portugal, where I was to teach Soul to Soil: Permaculture for Personal Development, 125 hours over three weeks. In my journey, I felt the deep shame of air travel and frustration at the lack of housing in Lisbon due to the plague of the AirBnB I was in my Uber to, yet my feelings of despair and guilt began to wane as the feeling of excitement for a new cohort of students was on my horizon. I was reminded of my Star XVII, my puropse in life, to teach, to help others find their Star and how to shine. My cup was filling even before course commencement. Then while on the bus through the Algarve, a region in the South of Portugal, we passed blackened trees, homes destroyed and spared, the recent fire’s gothic art scene looked like a Tim Burton movie in technicolor. As the sun blared in my window, the weight I was feeling returned, “what am I supposed to say to these people?” On the bus I caught glimpses of shy smiles from my new students, wanting to say “hi” but feeling the natural intimidation of a new teacher and mentor. I also feeling nervous and shy, readying myself for the vulnerable pouring of my heart into a shared experience, we simply call an “immersive course.” I won’t go deep into the curriculum or content, perhaps for another musing, but what the three weeks did, as I witnessed everyone’s individual and collective process was a renewed purpose and a feeling of profound safety and faith. We were all reminded that there are so, so many good people. People with big hearts who are just trying to find their way toward a peaceful, fair and mindful path. People who are sincerely trying. People who are breaking themselves open to find their way. During the three weeks I was continuousy feeling into my thoughts and feelings about grief and love. I had contained for the students the Truth Mandala Ritual as taught by the great Joanna Macy, I easily shared my laughter and my tears, I got silly and serious. I had them all crying along with me. In those collective tears I was reminded that grief is a pledge to love. That there is no sorrow without the knowledge of joy. I have returned home with a heart mended and ready to be worn right on my sleeve once again!
Now in witnessing the unfolding of a horrific set of crimes being inflicted on humanity in the current war for territory in the ancient “holy land” I found myself seated between anguish, anger, disgust, disgrace and futility. What the fuck can I do about this? I know I am powerless in the eyes of warring states, I know my voice doesn’t matter to a congress nor a parliment. And in times like this the only option for talking and being heard is in an echo chamber that most likely will start a troll war of its own, the reverberation of that dialog feels hopeless still.
I am called to remember where my power lies. It is in my deepest reserves for compassion, the same reserve that holds my boundless love of life.
How do I cultivate love for those that seem to thrive on hate and fear? By finding an intersection.
An intersection is our connection in commonality. Each common string we find with another is like reweaving an old threadbare blanket into a tapestry of wonderful color, diversity and resilience. Our human connections are being frayed and severed with each news stream and with each denial of life. Cutting the cords, desensitization, boarder walls, cages, jails, hate words, resentments, these pull us further and further apart. But I ask myself how I can find common ground with another whose ideals, values and lifestyle are so different than mine? When I am in the checkout lane at the supermarket and I can’t help but furrow my brow and feel sorry for the cart of processed food and tortured meat unloading ahead of me. How terrible I feel when I see someone drinking a Coke and smoking a cigarette, my body is physically repulsed. I ask myself, what do I share with this person in the MAGA hat or the Burqa, when I stand there with my defiance etched into my skin, a belly button blazing, my hair free and frizzy sipping from my thermos with the “Mother Fucking Witch” sticker.
How I nourish compassion and love is by transporting myself into their world. Imagining them waking in the morning and looking into the eyes of the one they love, kissing their children goodnight, laughing at a cat meme, and enjoying a dinner with themselves and a good book. I see them looking at the stars and feeling small. I imagine their tears. I see into the eyes of the abused, praying they would just be left alone, and through the eyes of the abuser, who knows deep relenting frustration and rage. I ask myself, who? Who did this to them? I try to feel what they may feel in their bones. I have the gift of Clairvoyance and Clairsentience, I will allow myself to be a medium in this process of understanding.
I was taught in my early 20’s about the philosophy and practice of Re-Evaluation Co-Counseling (RC), and regularly met and practiced with the same group for a number of years. In RC you learn how to access your emotions through talk and specific forms of somatic release, held in a safe and confidential space by a peer to dig down to the root of a distress pattern informs our present behaviors and beliefs. The peer is the key part. In RC, there is no power dynamic of a professional:client relationship. The person being counseled in turn counsels the other. The result is learning the skill of active listening, practicing confidentiality, and nurturing deep unyeilding empathy. These distress patterns emerge early in our life due to observed behaviors in our parents and others close to us, being told we are less/better than another, and even venturing as far back as when we were babies crying and being told “shhhhh, its ok.” By being witnessed in a monolog with ourselves, with reasonable prompting and not being judged for our feelings, we are able to process our emotions by gaining an understanding of where they came from so we can have a greater grasp on them when they arise. Co-Counseling teaches that there is no blame or shame in this process, and to remember that witnessing the other and being witnessed is a step toward becoming more human. Read the Decent of Innana to understand this on a deeper, archetypal level, maybe I will just tell you that story another time. These lessons began 20 years ago and they still continue to this day. Living in community, working in collaborative groups, producing events, being a wife, a childless mother, sister, friend and teacher has been a continuous reminder that humans are dynamic, crazy and beautiful. The sacred drama of our human condition is at the same time merciless and infinitely compassionate.
So in these days where I am so fortunate to not be running for my life, where I have plenty of food on the table, a life where I can intentionally and willfully put hands in the soil, the enormous sigh of relief that I feel to know I am loved, I turn that love out to the world. I call up my strength and my allies to support myself and others, and I find ways to weave the web tighter. Through acts of kindness and generocity, in accordance with the natutal law of sacred balance, I step up and I step back. I walk this Good Medicine Road, I will help others collect water from the well, and brew the tea that will heal the world.